Artist in Residence: Marisa Mu

Textured divide

Interdisciplinary artist Marisa Mu joins us this week as the first visiting artist of the Summer Artist Residency Program at Gorman Arts Centre.

In the lead up to her stay, we asked Marisa to share some thoughts about her practice, current projects and this residency opportunity at Gorman.

I really believe in the power of personal visibility and being seen, spoken about, shared with peers and audiences is the most important exchange for any artist, especially when they are emerging artists.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What inspired you to pursue a career in art and what fuels your creative practice?

I have always been a creative person. One of my earliest memories was back in preschool where I spent the afternoon painting a portrait of my family standing out the front of our house. I remember puffing my little chest with pride when I finished it. I said aloud to myself, ‘I am going to be an artist one day’.

What fuels me is my late mother. She passed away when I was 19 and she was the light of my life. My fondest memories of her were watching her create still life arrangements with flowers, and then watching her paint them in oils. Her spirit continues to live on through me and my arts practice – my livelihood as an artist is to provide a platform for underrepresented voices, specifically migrant, refugee, asylum seeker women and queer folk.

Why did you apply for this artist residency at Gorman Arts Centre?

I applied for this artist residency at Gorman Arts Centre because of its reputation for fostering and supporting emerging artists from multi-disciplinary practices. I am at a point in my career where I want to actively challenge myself to go outside of my own community and sense of familiarity. I am craving new connections and exchanges through storytelling and art with other artists and arts professionals in different communities, different cities.

I haven’t been back to Canberra since I was a little kid, so I am super excited to be coming here as a practicing artist, to learn from this incredible arts community, evolve and have meaningful connections with my peers.

You describe your practice as interdisciplinary. Can you tell us what this means to you, and a bit about the range of mediums that you work with?

The breadth of my practice spans across painting, poetry, sculpture, textiles and performance. I am exploring important themes relevant to my lived experience and having the agency to channel storytelling and truth-telling through multiple modes of visual languages is fundamental to creating socially engaging and impactful work.

My dominant practice has been rooted within painting, but I am excited to invest more energies and time exploring mix media and integrating poetry and spoken word within my new explorative bodies of work.

Can you provide an overview of the project or body of work you plan to focus on during your residency at Gorman?

My proposed creative project for the artist residency at Gorman is to focus on creating new bodies of work for my forthcoming solo exhibition titled ‘With Pleasure’ showing At The Above gallery in Fitzroy, Melbourne in March 2024.

My intentions are to focus on the research and development of new bodies of work that are rooted within the themes of Queer Expression, Intersectional Feminism, The Asian Diaspora and Body Liberation.

A fundamental part of this new body of work is the accompaniment of an independent publication titled, ‘With Pleasure and Sometimes Pain’ which will be a compilation of unseen poetry, musings, illustrations and visual documentation of my process and art practice over the past 5 years of being a full-time artist. A retrospective of my journey as an artist since its inception.

How do you envision the residency environment here at Gorman influencing the development of your project?

My intentions for this artist residency are to spend dedicated time and energy removed from my familiar environment of Melbourne to bring a fresh lens and perspective to my arts practice.

I envision the residency at Gorman will breathe new life and channel different energies into my arts practice, ultimately birthing new ways of introspection and inspiration for my writing, story-telling and art-making.

This will be an incredible exciting chapter within my career as an emerging artist and I will be doing my utmost to honour this incredible opportunity.

In your view, what are the ways that artists can be best supported in the current climate?

I really believe in the power of personal visibility and being seen, spoken about, shared with peers and audiences is the most important exchange for any artist, especially when they are emerging artists.

Accessibility is another important factor when it comes to empowering and supporting artists, ensuring that opportunities cater for marginalised voices and individuals who need assistance and additional support, whether it is within language, mobility or instilling a sense of agency within someone to be brave enough to try something meaningful, is the baseline of what organisations and cultural institutions can do for artists.


In addition to your own practice, you are the co-founder of Tits & Co. Can you tell us about this initiative?

Tits & Co. is a deeply personal passion project for me that started in 2019. This space facilitates underrepresented artists, supporting female and gender-non-conforming peoples. Through submissions, events and exhibitions, we aim to give these communities a voice, bridging the gap between maker and access to space.

We are currently going through a restructuring of the business and are excited for what we have in store for later in the year!

Finally, are there any creative aspirations you have for the future?

I have so many! But the biggest one is happening mid this year, where I will be embarking on the biggest chapter of my life! Moving to the Big Apple and chasing my dreams of being a practicing artist there. Exciting times ahead!

You can hear more from Marisa at her upcoming free Artist Talk at Gorman on Thursday 21st February:

Join us

Or check out more on Marisa’s socials

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